PARIS (AP) - Many Parisians are still in their beds, as a mighty noise roused her from sleep: An explosion shakes a street on Saturday morning in the center of the French capital. According to official sources, it kills two firefighters and dozens of people are injured.
Public prosecutors and police do not want to confirm media reports of a third death in the afternoon.
The explosion takes place at 9:00 am at Number 6 Rue de Trévise, about one kilometer from the Paris Opera House. The authorities suspect a gas leak as a trigger. "At this time we can say that it seems to be an accident," says the Paris prosecutor Rémy Heitz the station France Info. Accordingly, the fire department was called because of the escaping gas in the street. Then there was the explosion, then fire broke out. Several buildings have been destroyed.
The force of the detonation leaves a scene of devastation. Hours of dense smoke are coming out of the building. The roads around the Rue de Trévise are closed off. At the entrances to the scene of the accident, red-and-white fluttering band stops passers-by in the afternoon. "This is closed," says a policeman in a firm voice.
Dozens of firefighters are on duty at the scene of the accident, there is a smell of burning in the air, the ground is full of shards, rubble and extinguishing water. The windows of the neighboring houses are almost completely destroyed. Parked cars also have no more discs. From the lower floor of the house on the corner where the explosion happened, there is almost nothing left. There are only walls - windows or doors can be guessed at maximum. A bakery was there, of which now nothing is recognizable.
Elonara Romano and Ugo Weyl stand stunned across the street at the front door. Weyl lives here, Romano is visiting. "We slept and suddenly we heard a noise," says the young woman. Although it was loud and reminded of bursting glass, but the two had initially thought nothing. Your bedroom is not in the direction of the street. Only news from friends made them aware of the disaster on their doorstep. Then they see that the windows in their apartment are broken as well.
Around 100 police officers and nearly 200 firefighters are in action, according to Interior Minister after the explosion. With the help of aerial ladders, rescue workers free people from the affected and surrounding buildings. Rescuers are initially accommodated in the lobby of a hotel, as reported by the station France Bleu Paris. If you are not injured, the emergency services take you from there to a café. The security authorities check whether neighboring buildings are damaged and could pose a threat.
The explosion shakes the 9th arrondissement in Paris shortly before announced demonstrations of the "yellow vests" in the capital. Because riots were feared again, the nerves at the security authorities are already blank. Around 5,000 security forces are deployed on Saturday in Paris to secure the demonstrations.
Moreover, many French people still remember the attack in Strasbourg a month ago. On December 11, an attacker had opened the fire in the city center of the Alsatian city. Five people died, many more were injured.
A local resident, who was roused from the explosion in Paris, told BFMTV: "I felt my house sway to its foundations for a second or two. I was wondering if there was an attack. I was a bit scared."